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Nagano Japan

Japan's Nagano Prefecture is a true destination for nature enthusiasts. Because the landlocked region occupies a chunk of the Central and Southern Alps, it's often referred to as 'the roof of Japan' due to its soaring mountain ranges. Local skiing and hiking conditions are some of the best in the country – Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games – and top athletes still come to tackle the runs at Shiga Kogen and resorts in Hakuba.

Nagano has become synonymous with winter sports, but the city also happens to be home to some of Japan's most significant and picturesque temples and shrines. One of Nagano's most important cultural sites is Zenko-ji, a 7th-century temple home to the first-ever Buddhist statue brought into Japan. Togakushi Shrine is another religious landmark consisting of five separate shrines spread out across Mount Togakushi and linked by trails.

Hot springs are aplenty in Nagano, and you'll find no end of places to soak post-piste. If you're looking to combine relaxation with some sightseeing, the onsens in Yudanaka and Shibu are closest to Jigokudani Monkey Park. Come winter, wild Japanese macaques can be seen soaking in its natural pools.

Like many great Japanese destinations, Nagano possesses its own unique food culture. The region's higher altitude and colder climate have resulted in particularly hearty cuisine. Flour-based oyaki dumplings, 'oden' hot pot and steaming bowls of Shinshu soba noodles all make ideal meals for refuelling and warming up after a day on the slopes.


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